“Gateways to Inclusion: Turning Tense Moments into Productive Conversations”
Have you ever found yourself in a situation like the one depicted in this clip? Awful, isn’t it? The thing that make this so terrible for Michelle is that the people around her are jumping to conclusions about the meaning of her mistake. They are assuming that her error grows from a bias.
Sure, there are times when comments and behaviors are so blatant that it leaves no doubt that the person has a biased and disrespectful attitude, but usually – like in the case depicted here – it is impossible to know how the person really feels. Most of the time we end up just guessing at what is really going on and “guessing” is a sure fire way to slam the gate shut on what might otherwise be a productive conversation.
So, just one of the four skills depicted in “Gateways to Inclusion”: Be cautious when assessing intent and attitude. Give folks like Michelle the benefit of the doubt. Not only is jumping to conclusions disrespectful, that jump is apt to land you in a place where productive communication becomes nearly impossible. If you want to know how they really feel, don’t guess, respectfully engage the person in conversation – you might be amazed at what you learn.
Meanwhile, what can Michelle do in this situation? Well, there’s one thing she can do for sure. Go back to Juan, apologize for getting his name wrong, and explain that she messes names up all the time. Just that simple act of respect can go far toward making things right.
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